Catching Up with Team Kosmopolites


We’ll be looking to catch up with some of the budding changemakers from the GapSummit 2017, to see how they’re progressing with their ideas to bridge the gaps.

Team Kosmopolites was the winner of our Voices of Tomorrow Ideas Challenge (see their pitch above) and were kind enough to update us on how they’re moving forward.

What was the Gap you set out to address and what solution are you pursuing?

We were assigned the Sustainability Gap. Initially, we reflected on the major sustainability issues in today’s world, our competencies and how we could leverage on our strengths to make a significant difference. After brainstorming, we came up with several ideas and narrowed it down to one that we were all really passionate about.

Our ultimate goal of our idea is a world without plastic waste floating around the ocean or filling up our landfills, and where plastic toxins will not negatively affect people’s health. To accomplish our mission we designed an innovative solution which utilises fungal material to 3D print and ultimately create a biodegradable alternative to styrofoam packaging. We anticipate that our product will be a first step to turn bio waste into a sustainable solution to the plastic pollution problem.

How did you all find the VoT Idea Challenge, and what were the biggest takeaways from the experience?

The VoT Idea Challenge has been a great learning opportunity, a lot of fun and challenging at the same time. It gave us the opportunity to collaborate with talented individuals from around the world, and it also provided us with great insights into entrepreneurship, project management, public speaking and pitching our idea to investors. It was a great way to develop both personally and professionally, and we are all very happy we took part in the Idea challenge.

What are the next steps you’re taking to move your idea forward?

After the great feedback we received at the GapSummit, from judges as well as fellow attendees, we are keen to move forward with our idea. Firstly, we want to create a proof of concept of the product; our two team members with access to research laboratories are currently working on this. Secondly, every team member has started a detailed research on how to protect our IP in our respective countries. Finally, since our idea requires significant starting capital, we plan to apply to start-up competitions in order to raise the capital necessary to develop a proof of concept of our product.

Finally, who makes up Team Kosmopolites? Tell us a bit about your backgrounds and what motivates you?

Our team consists of four members:

Jessica Chiang

Jessica is from Taipei, Taiwan originally and currently doing her honours year (fourth year) in Biotechnology at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. She started and ran a completely student-led iGEM (international Genetic Engineering Machine) team for her university last year and it turns out to be the first team ever to represent New Zealand entering the competition. She is also the Strategist for Chiasma, in which they foster connections between STEM students and industries. She has worked on plastic degrading enzyme and is currently interested in working out bio-synthetic ways to manufacture nanowires. She cares about the environment very much and believe biotechnology holds the secret to green living.

Alexandra Cuaycal

Alexandra is from Quito, Ecuador. She is a senior undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology Engineering. The Principal of her university awarded her a recognition as “Outstanding Student in Research” in June 2016. She was selected as one of the 40 young entrepreneurs to attend the 3-Day Startup Ecuador in November 2016. She has worked in Pesticide and Rubber Biodegradation and is currently carrying out her bachelor’s thesis in Molecular Microbiology at the University of Florida, US. She is new to the world of entrepreneurship but very eager to learn!

Dr Elena Loche

Elena just finished her PhD in Metabolic and Cardiovascular Disease at the University of Cambridge (UK). Before, She studied molecular biotechnologies at the University of Bologna. While in Cambridge she developed an interest in business and biotech, which led her to attend business-related courses (e.g. BioBusiness Summer School in Amsterdam) as well as several local panel discussions from Cambridge-based entrepreneurs. During her PhD she devoted significant time in establishing a new student association in collaboration with seven other Cambridge students, the Addenbrooke’s Graduate Forum, which purpose is to connect life scientists based on the Cambridge Biomedical Campus and to help them discover non-academic related careers through speaker events and employer-led workshops. She would say she is quite new to the business world and very keen to learn more!

Sofia Järbur

Sofia is from Sweden. She is currently working as a Global Operations Graduate Associate at AstraZeneca. Her first rotation had a focus on regulatory compliance and her current role is as a business analyst within supply chain and distribution. Prior to her current role she studied Business & Management at the University of Glasgow, Scotland and the University of New South Wales, Australia. She has studied a couple of entrepreneurship courses, and started two businesses while still at school. One was started through Junior Achievement Sweden and the other was a non-profit where all proceeds went to cancer research. She is new to the world of biotechnology, but fascinated by the potential and she is really looking forward to learning more.

Our diverse technical and cultural backgrounds coupled with complementary skills make our team unique. We are grateful for the experience we have gained before and during the GapSummit 2017 and we look forward to many new opportunities to learn, grow and connect!


Thanks, Team Kosmopolites!

Categories: Blog

Tags: Leaders of Tomorrow, GapSummit 2017, Sustainability, Voices of Tomorrow

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